Heriot’s preserved their proud record of never having dropped out of Scottish club rugby’s upper echelons with a win that has secured the Goldenacre side’s place in the ten-team top flight next season.
The home side went into the match on the back of a widely acclaimed performance the previous week. And, if they failed to reproduce the same flowing rugby on this occasion, they did secure the requisite outcome.
It was a disappointing end to the season for Stewart’s Melville, whose outstanding early form has faltered since the league split. They could claim to have played the better rugby for long periods of yesterday’s encounter and, with greater composure in the strike zone, could have made it a much tighter contest. However, Heriot’s deserved to celebrate after working assiduously to recover from a mid-season dip in results that threatened their Premier 1 status.
The hosts had to weather a strong opening by the visitors before skipper Graham Wilson eased them ahead with a straightforward penalty after seven minutes. And he doubled the tally six minutes later with a sweetly struck effort from 45 metres.
The Inverleith side opened their account when Harry Boisseau squeezed in at the corner. Wilson’s instant riposte was another long-range penalty although he was awry with an easier effort following an offence that earned Donald Sangster ten minutes in the cooler.
The hosts took advantage of their numerical advantage when a powerful drive from a close-range scrum was halted illegally and the referee awarded a penalty try. Wilson’s conversion was the final score of the half but the visitors cut the deficit to 16-8 when Mike Hanning slotted a penalty immediately after the restart. They fell further behind – despite the hosts having Jason Hill in the sin bin – when Alex Spence powered through and sent Max Learmonth in for a try which Wilson converted.
Stewart’s Melville bounced back with a slick move that sent Boisseau over for a second time, but the hosts responded in kind when Gregor Lawson crossed the whitewash. And they produced their best rugby of the afternoon during the closing 15 minutes to add further tries from Cammy Ferguson and Lawson, with Wilson kicking both conversions.